PCOS - Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Understanding & Treating, Naturally
Unfortunately the exact cause of PCOS is not completely known but what is known is that it is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age. It is a condition that affects a woman's hormone levels resulting in the production of higher-than-normal amounts of male hormones.
PCOS can begin shortly after puberty, but usually develops during the later teen years and early adulthood. Because symptoms may be attributed to other causes or go unnoticed, PCOS may go undiagnosed for some time. Women with PCOS may have infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods or excess male hormone (androgen) levels. The ovaries may develop numerous small collections of fluid (follicles) and fail to regularly release eggs. The follicles keep growing and form multiple "cysts." called Follicular cysts but have been known to go away on their own within 1-3 months.
Early diagnosis and treatment along with weight loss may reduce the risk of long-term complications such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. PCOS causes insulin resistance and inflammation & can be negatively affected by diet, nutrition, lifestyle and exposure to toxins.
Signs of PCOS:
Abnormal mid-cycle bleeding
Hirsutism (excessive body hair)
Supplements that can benefit people with PCOS:
A high quality multivitamin
Evening primrose oil
Fish oil with an EPA of 900 and a DHA of 600
GDA (Glucose Disposal Agent)
Nutrition: It is important to understand that treating the symptoms of PCOS means reducing insulin resistance, that means changing your dietary habits to help you, help yourself
Eat 5 small meals a day
Balance your protein with equal amounts of carbs
The TYPE of carbs you eat are really important here.. you want whole grain/sprouted grain and you want to avoid processed carbs that spike insulin
Buckwheat are great choices
Eat low glycemic index foods that won’t affect insulin as much: So avoid anything “refined”.
Kale, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower or ANY coniferous vegetables
Grapefruit and apples
Avoid foods such as: pancake mixes, syrups, sugar, white potatoes, jams, white bread, pasta and soda
Eat high FIBRE - “refined’ means it’s basically been stripped of fibre.
Get in plenty of essential fatty acids
High Glycemic Carbs means that it gets converted quickly causing an insulin spike, this is what you want to avoid
Take 1 GDA with every carb meal
Note any food that is refined or white (with the exception of cauliflower) means it has been stripped of ALL nutrients and fibre. Sugar, salt, breads, pasta, rice etc. This is a basic tool when shopping that doesn’t require a lot of effort
A Example Food Day: This is based on 1500cals
Breakfast: 2 eggs scrambled with 1 tbsp coconut oil, spinach, and ½ cup black beans
Snack: unsweetened coconut milk, ½ peach, ¼ tsp cinnamon, hemp or pea protein powder and spirulina (make a smoothie)
Lunch: Organic turkey lettuce wrap (3 oz turkey) with celery sticks and 1/3 cup hummus on the side + 1 serving nuts
Dinner: Organic chicken or salmon (3 oz) with steamed broccoli and ½ cup baked yam
Snack before bed: Organic unsweetened yogurt with ½ cup blueberries and ½ tsp chia seeds + 1 tbsp almond butter
Quantities and macros will vary individually...this is just an example
Since exercise and weight control is a huge benefit to treated and managing PCOS, it is also important to know, what types of exercise is best. The key to controlling PCOS is reducing insulin resistance. Strength training does just that….of course:)
Strength Training increases the size of our skeletal muscle and can enhance the ‘muscles’ ability to manage glucose. Experts agree that these adaptations result in increased insulin sensitivity. Studies have not only observed this change in healthy women, but have also seen type II diabetics improve their insulin sensitivity through regular strength training.
Muscles fight belly fat Your body dislikes belly fat almost as much as you hate seeing it poke out over your jeans. Excess belly fat puts us at risk for PCOS complications like high cholesterol and metabolic syndrome. In an effort to trim the fat, many women gravitate toward exercises like crunches that target the abdominal muscles or worse, diet!! Strength training does a much better job of fighting abdominal fat so they would see better results from a pair of dumbbells and some squats! A University of Pennsylvania study found that overweight or obese women, ages 24–44, who were assigned to an hour of weight training twice a week reduced their proportion of body fat by nearly 4%. I have seen clients with phenomenal results in only ½ hr 3 days per week.
Stress & Cortisol Research has shown that engaging in excessive amounts of HIIT can be counterproductive for women with PCOS so sticking to a whole body strength training program has proven to help relieve symptoms. While there may be concern for testosterone levels with weight training, research has shown that there is no difference in testosterone levels between heavily trained female athletes and sedentary women. Thus, women will not flood their bodies with androgens by taking up strength training. In fact, if regular strength training helps you reduce your insulin resistance, you might even see your androgens normalize a bit.